Veterans Disability Litigation
Ken advises veterans disability legal of the military to assist them in obtaining the disability compensation they are entitled to. Ken also represents clients in VA Board of Veterans Appeals hearings.
The Department of Veterans Affairs discriminated against Black veterans disability attorneys for decades by rejecting their disability claims in adisproportionate way, according to a lawsuit filed last week by Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic.
What is an VA Disability?
The disability rating determines the amount of monthly payments to veterans disability case who have service-related disabilities. The rating is determined by the severity of the injury or illness and can range from 0% up to 100 percent in increments of 10% (e.g., 20 percent, 30%, etc.). The compensation is free of tax and provides a minimum income to the disabled veteran and his family.
The VA also offers other programs that offer additional compensation, such as individual unemployment, car allowance, clothing allowance, and hospitalization and prestabilization benefits. These benefits are in addition to the basic disability compensation.
The Social Security Administration also gives veterans a special credit they can utilize to increase their lifetime earnings to qualify for retirement or disability benefits. These credits are referred to as „credit for service.“
Many of the conditions that make disabled veterans for disability benefits are mentioned in the Code of Federal Regulations. Certain of these conditions, however, require an expert’s opinion. An experienced veteran lawyer can help a client obtain this opinion and provide the evidence needed to support a claim for disability compensation.
Sullivan & Kehoe has extensive experience in representing veterans in appeals and claims for disability. We are dedicated to assisting our clients get the disability benefits they deserve. We have handled thousands of disability cases and are well-versed with the intricacies of VA regulations and laws. Our firm was started by a disabled vet who made fighting for veterans rights a key part of his practice after successfully representing himself in a Board of Veterans Appeals hearing.
How do I make a claim?
Veterans must first locate the medical evidence of their disability. This includes Xrays or doctor’s reports, as well any other documentation pertaining to the veteran’s condition. It is essential to submit these documents to the VA. If a veteran doesn’t have these documents and the VA must be informed by the applicant (or their VSO).
The next step is to submit an intent to file. This form allows the VA examine your claim even before you have all the required information and medical records. This form also preserves the date of effective compensation benefits in the event that you are successful in your case.
The VA will schedule your appointment after all the required information has been received. This will be dependent on the type and number of disabilities you are claiming. If you fail to attend this test, it could delay the process of submitting your claim.
The VA will provide you with a decision package when the examinations have been completed. If the VA denies your claim you have a year from the date of the letter to request a more thorough review.
A lawyer can help at this point. Accredited lawyers from VA can now get involved in the appeals process right from the beginning, which is a an enormous benefit for people seeking disability benefits.
How do I appeal a denial?
Denial of veterans‘ disability benefits can be extremely frustrating. The VA provides an appeals procedure to appeal these decisions. The first step is to file a Notice of Disagreement with the VA regional office that has sent you the Rating Decision. In your notice of disagreement, you must tell the VA the reason you don’t like their decision. You don’t have to include all of the reasons but you should include everything that you disagree on.
It’s also important to request your C-file (claims file) so you can see the evidence the VA used to make their decision. There are usually insufficient or missing records. This can sometimes lead to an error in the rating.
If you submit your NOD you must choose whether you want to have your case reviewed by a Decision Review Officer or by the Board of Veterans Appeals. In general, you’ll have a better chance of success when you opt for a DRO review than with the BVA.
If you are subject to an DRO review you have the option of requesting a personal hearing before an experienced senior rating specialist. The DRO will examine your claim „de de novo“ which means they will not be influenced by the previous decision. This usually results in a totally new Rating Decision. Alternately, you can opt to have your claim reviewed by the BVA in Washington. This is the most time taking appeals route and typically takes one to three years to receive a new decision.
How much does a lawyer charge?
Lawyers may charge a fee for helping you appeal an VA disability decision. However, the law currently prohibits lawyers from charging fees for assistance in the case. The fee is only payable if the lawyer is successful in your case or increases your benefits via an appeal. The fees are typically paid directly from any lump-sum payments you receive from the VA.
Veterans can search the VA’s database of attorneys who are accredited or Veterans Disability Litigation claim agents to find accredited representatives. These individuals have been approved by the Department of veterans disability case Affairs to represent veterans disability lawsuit, service members, dependents, or survivors in a range of issues such as disability compensation and pension claims.
Most disability advocates for veterans are paid on an hourly basis. This means that they are only paid if they are successful in winning the appeal of the client and get back pay from the VA. The amount of backpay given can be different however it could be as high as 20 percent of a claimant’s past-due benefits.
In rare cases attorneys or Veterans Disability Litigation agents might decide to charge on an per hour basis. This is not common due to two reasons. First, these matters can be time-consuming and can last for months or even years. The second reason is that many veterans and their families can’t afford to pay an hourly fee.